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Rugby Union: SEVENS HEAVEN; Baabaas win Melrose gala.

Byline: Kevin BOYD Rugby Correspondent

THOUSANDS of rugby enthusiasts flocked to the Borders to watch a thrilling Tilney Melrose Sevens final in which the Barbarians stole the show.

By beating the Fijians of Nawaka by 38-19 they brought the day to a dramatic climax.

The Fijians, who were defending the trophy, had seemed poised to take it off to the South Seas for another year. But the Baabaas had other ideas.

Two tries from South African Border Reiver Conan Sharman in the opening three minutes rocked Narwaka. It was the first time in the afternoon they had been behind.

Baabaas Darren Burns from Biggar said: "Those early tries made all the difference," said . "It is particularly wonderful to win at Melrose against such a great side as the Fijians."

Nawak's manager Frederic Laurent agreed that his men had been put under unexpected pressure.

He said: "The Barbarians did not look convincing in their early ties.

"But in the final we could not match their commitment in the tackle and ball retention."

With the Baabaas taking on the Fijians physically through Owen Williams and Burns in particular, they scored two more first half tries, through Scotland U21 winger Simon Webster, to lead 26-0.

Any chance of a Nawaka come back was immediately dispelled when Scotland International winger Shaun Longstaff scored from the restart.

Another try, an opportunist effort from Webster for his hat-trick, allowed the Baabaas to relax and Nawaka ran in tries through Temesia Kaumaia, Norman Ligairi and Vuniani Derenalagi.

The highlight of the opening rounds had been the progress of Glasgow Hawks.

Having to start in the prelims, they then eliminated guests Cambridge University and then knocked out a very competitive guest Uruguayan side in the quarter finals, before going out to the Barbarians in the semis.

Another talking point was the failure of all the border sides bar Melrose to win a match. The hosts finally went down in the quarters to Christchurch.

The first semi was a replay of last year's final with Nawaka taking on the Kiwis and winning 17-12. In the other, the Baabaas eased home 24-12 beating the Glasgow Hawks.


BAA-RILLIANT: The victorious Baabaas captain Shaun Longstaff holds the trophy aloft with his team-mates
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2001
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